By Seamus Hayes
Clare 4-28 Antrim 1-10
Clare were on their way to a third All-Ireland under 21 hurling final long before the final whistle sounded at Thurles on Saturday afternoon.
From an early stage their superiority was evident and when the half time whistle sounded they were eighteen points ahead of Ulster champions Antrim showed some lovely touches but just could not match the overall team work and skill of the defending champions.
As was the case when they met in last year’s final, Clare were able to give game time to a number of substitutes, such was their dominance
Antrim started well but Clare quickly took control and a beautiful Colm Galvin point gave them a lead they held throughout.
They had 0-5 on the scoreboard when Aaron Cunningham struck for their opening goal in the eleventh minute. They added another four before Cunningham got through for their second major which came in the twenty first minute, just two after Antrim opened their account with a Sean McAfee goal after impressive Ciaran Clarke created the opening when he got past the Clare defence.
When the half time whistle sounded it was 2-16 to 1-1 in favour of the Clare side. The second half `continued in the same vein with Clare dictating matters throughout the pitch. Aaron Cunningham, completed his his hat trick of goals with a third ten minutes form time while team captain Tony Kelly was the other goalscorer for the winners on a day when Antrim goalkeeper Ciaran Butler produced some fine saves to prevent his side form a heavier defeat
Aaron Cunningham 3-3, Cathal O’Connell 0-6 (5 frees), Tony Kelly 1-3, Bobby Duggan 0-5 (3frees), David Reidy 0-3, Colm Galvin and Shane O’Donnell 0-2 each, Jamie Shanahan, Eoin Enright, Shane Gleeson and Niall Deasy 0-1 each.
Seán McAfee 1-0, Stephen McAfee and Ciaran Clarke (1f), 0-3 each, Michael Bradley, Daniel McKernan, Saul McCaughan and Conor Burke 0-1 each.
Clare;–Keith Hogan (Clooney-Quin);Jarlath Colleran (St. Josephs), Jack Browne (Ballyea) Seadna Morey (Sixmilebridge); Gearoid O’Connell (Ballyea), Alan O’Neill (St. Josephs), Jamie Shanahan (Sixmilebridge); Colm Galvin (Clonlara), Eoin Enright (Kilmaley); Peter Duggan (Clooney-Quin), Tony Kelly (Ballyea), Capt., Bobby Duggan (Clarecastle); Shane O’Donnell (Eire Og), Aaron Cunningham (Wolfe Tones), David Reidy (Eire Og);
;–Cathal O’Connell (Clonlara) for Reidy (30 minutes) Niall Deasy (Ballyea) for B. Duggan (half time); Shane O’Brien (Clonlara) for Morey (45 minutes); Shane Gleeson (Cratloe) for Galvin (45 minutes); Aidan McGuane (Kilmaley) for Shanahan (51 minutes)
;–Ciaran Butler; Michael Dudley, Paddy Burke, Michael Bradley; Ryan McCambridge, Jackson McGreavey, Tomas O’Ciaran; Eoghan Campbell, Niall McKenna; Daniel McCloskey, Stephen McAfee, Darragh McGuinness; Daniel McKernan, Sean MaAfee, Ciaran Clarke;
–Conor Burke for McGuinness; Saul McGaughan for D. McCloskey (half time); James O’Connell for N.McKenna(38 minutes); Maol Connolly for R. McCambridge (45 minutes) Eamonn McGaughan for Sean McAfee (52)
Referee—Paud O’Dwyer, Carlow;